Ad spend dropped 8% across key Anglo markets last year: SMI

The pandemic contributed to an 8% decline in ad spend across key Anglo markets (the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada) last year according to Standard Media Index, with Canada faring the worst among the five markets tracked by the advertising intelligence firm.

Canadian ad spending dropped 19% year-over-year in 2020, and the market is rebounding slower than its counterparts, said SMI. The combined US$7.6 billion decline in total ad investment across the five markets is the largest drop ever seen by SMI, which uses media agency billing data to compile its reports.

But while the pandemic’s initial shock led to what SMI described as a “devastating” 32% drop across the five markets in the second quarter—and a 48% drop in Canada—it noted that the market has been steadily recovering in recent months.

“We definitely saw the bottom of global advertising demand in Q2, but as the markets adjusted to a new ‘COVID normal,’ the level of demand has begun to return,” said SMI’s global CEO, James Fennessy.

SMI said that the advertising strongholds of digital and TV have fared the best among the various media categories, with digital’s market share across the five markets jumping to 47% from 42% on the basis of a 4% increase in actual ad spending.

TV investment declined 13% on a year-over-year basis, but the declines were more acute across radio, out-of-home and print, with those media declining a combined 34% on a year-over-year basis. Out-of-home was the most affected, said Fennessy, owing to the abrupt loss of audiences caused by the pandemic.

There was some category growth in Canada, however, with spending in household supplies/services increasing 34% on a year-over-year basis, followed by insurance at 19% and consumer electronics spending at 9%. Entertainment advertising saw the most significant decline, 42%, followed by automotive brand advertising (-30%), auto dealer advertising (-29%) and banking/financial services advertising (-23%).

Using media agency billing data, SMI tracked spending across the United States, the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand from the beginning of the pandemic until the end of May.

Chris Powell